Not to brag or anything but I made varsity softball as a freshman in high school. To tell you the truth, I thought they may have heard about my grand slam in the eighth grade at Immaculate Conception Grammar School. Maybe not.

Anyway… a fractured ankle during soccer season my sophomore year meant I’d miss basketball tryouts again. Freshman year I’d had the flu.

I had a full length cast on — oh yes!! — until late December. My mom died in late February. I started hitting the unsupervised weight room to strengthen my ankle and leg as soon as I could. After leg pressing 400 pounds for weeks I was ready for softball tryouts. My thighs looked like Eric Hieden’s. When I showed up for tryouts, much like Rudolph, I was told no reindeer games for me. Because I had broken my ankle on school property, the school district paid for the ambulance, hospital stay, etc. I never knew.

My soccer/softball coach explained it was too risky for me to reinjure my ankle — too risky for my high school to allow me to play such a dangerous sport. I was mad! I didn’t like it. She could see I was in great shape, but again, I was not listened to. It took a couple of days for me to hatch a new plan — I would try out for track.

I’m not sure why it was okay for me to run track and not play softball, but that’s what I did.

It wasn’t the first time I faced bureaucracy and it sure would not be the last. Had the Athletic Director and Coaches not taken a Psychology class that could give them a glimmer that it would be so much better for me to be with my teammates that I had a history with after the loss of my mom rather than a bunch of new kids? Guess they skipped that class and hit the weight room. So, that was the end of my jock career at Fayetteville Manlius High School.

Footnote… 7 years later…
While working as a nurse in Syracuse, my charge nurse Marilyn was putting together a softball team. We needed a few more players so I reached out to two of my former teammates. Gio and Swanny were really good players. They played soccer, basketball, and softball all 4 years. They were the jocks I thought I would be. Three sport wonders like two of my older sisters and one of my younger sisters. They could have played in a A League – I think we were in a C League team. They weren’t diva’s more like Heckle & Jeckle cracking us up. Just there to play and have fun. They had no idea how much it meant to me for them to agree to show up and play ball. Some things do come full circle.

When I broke my ankle, I was out of school for a week. Then having to go into the hospital for it to be rebroken and set correctly. Being discharged with my pain out of control, it took me weeks for my pain level to decrease to a level where I could go back to school. My younger sister was bringing homework home to me, but Regents Algebra was the one class I just couldn’t catch up on. Eventually, I would have to transfer to the less intense algebra class. In the second semester I had an English teacher who wrote something strange on the final writing assignment I turned in. “Sounds a little too similar to ‘The Old Man and the Sea.’” I asked, “What’s that?” She arrogantly responded, “A very famous book by Hemmingway!” I respond, “I never read it.” And you guessed it… she flunked me. Who flunks 10th grade English? Apparently, I do. I guess she couldn’t have imagined a 10 year old kid who wanted to be a writer and drive an orange Corvette to my assignments. Now, who had a lack of imagination between the two of us?

Getting to and from summer school was so much fun. We lived 15 miles away. There were no buses for summer school. My dad wasn’t an option. I think I rode my bike or friends drove me, OR a combination of the two. What I do remember for that last writing project I wrote about how hard it had been losing my mom and all her responsibility falling to me. I wrote about what I knew. I didn’t get any snotty comment at the top of my paper this time around. No veiled accusation of plagiarism. Maybe I titled it “The Young Girl and the Fishsticks from the Sea!” I don’t remember the grade; I gave up A’s way back in grammar school somewhere. There wasn’t going to be a third High School Cum Laude from me anyways!